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The World Without You

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  3,138 ratings  ·  576 reviews
It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Th
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by Pantheon
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  3,138 ratings  ·  576 reviews

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Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Very enjoyable premise, but just lacking oomph for me though I am afraid. I loved the storyline and enjoyed most of the cast of characters. Subconsciously the third book in a row with a Jewish theme, I’ve probably overloaded on that too. I think I lack understanding, and that realistically is impacting on my enjoyment. My issue, not the author's of course!

Leo’s family meet up for the memorial weekend/one-year celebration of his death. With this comes family baggage to the extreme. His once promi
B the BookAddict
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Diane's review

“Rich, deep, funny, and wise, this is a sumptuous layer cake of a novel whose ordinary yet urgent dramas remind us that family is where it all begins. Henkin is a writer of voluminous heart, humanity and talent.” Julia Glass, author of The Widower's Tale

“An immeasurably moving masterpiece that tracks the intricate threads connecting children to parents, sisters to brothers, wives to husbands. To say 'I cared' about these characters would be to hugely understate their consuming effect on me.” He
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was written as if the author just liked to read his own writing - like a person who talks just to hear his own voice.

The present-tense narrative was clunky and almost unbearable by the halfway point of the book. "Now" and "then" were overused in the story telling (i.e., "Now she is playing badminton" and "Then they're in Lily's van.") Flat, boring characters with dull dialogue.

Certain items were unrealistic/seem to have missed the editing process:

1)"They're both three, though Calder is
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
In the Berkshires, during an enervating July Fourth weekend, three generations of Frankels gather together in 2005 for a memorial to their beloved son, brother, and spouse, Leo Frankel, a journalist who was kidnapped and killed in the Iraq War the previous year. As memories of Leo float through the narrative, old resentments and new secrets float to the top like crude oil in a jar of hearts. Henkin didn’t break any new contextual ground here. He was going for the familiar themes of loss, perseve ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was ok

Henkin, as in MATRIMONY his first book, is a wonderful writer. Unfortunately, I don’t know ANY of his characters. But more importantly, I don’t WANT to know them. The father is distant, the mother is self-absorbed. Clarissa, who has turned her back on a career as a cellist, is unhappy with her current life and sure a child – HER child, and only HER child - will complete her world. Lily is angry at everyone for unknown and unknowable reasons. Noelle, a wild c
Chris Dietzel
This would be a 3 1/2 star rating, but leave it to GoodReads to ignore users requesting the ability to give half stars in favor of completely redoing the homepage in a way everyone despises. Keep up the great work, Goodreads!

As for this book, if you want a perfectly executed dysfunctional family reunion, I highly recommend Hannah Pittard's Reunion.
Larry H
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's July 4, 2005, exactly one year after Leo Frankel, a newspaper reporter, was killed after being captured while covering the war in Iraq. His family and friends are traveling from across the world to gather in the Berkshires for a memorial service, since his funeral had been such a public spectacle. But as if the stress and grief associated with commemorating Leo's loss isn't enough, each of his family members has their own problems to deal with, as well as their relationships with each other ...more
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought Fall was the time when all the terrific books are released. My last three reads have been outstanding and so far this is still another. It's a great Summer to read! I repeat, the books this Summer are outstanding.

This story takes place in three days, over the 4th of July, as a broken .The family is like most, very complicated. Unlike many war stories, this one is concerned more with the people left behind than the fallen writer. It makes us understand how painful the headlines from war
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I would really like to give this book four and a HALF stars, but alas, that is not an option on Goodreads. So I rounded up.

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin is a novel about a big family coping with the death of a son and brother, one year after the tragedy. The novel is mostly dialogue (excellent dialogue). It contains many miniscule details (for example, washing the dishes details) that are at once amazing and irritating, but always impressive.

I like details, but they can wear on some re
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Someone vital and important to you has died. Sitting in a room accepting condolences from neighbors, friends and family the world seems so unreal. You're busy with death and the after effects. The shiva calls end or the wake is over and everyone goes home. Looking out the window the world has gone on. Children play games with their friends. Husbands and wives go to work, eat dinner, lay down with one another. But you just sit and wonder how can life go on without the one you love?
One year after
Debbie "DJ"
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction

I love how the author shares with us a slice of life. It's like looking in from the outside. All the relationships that exist in families dynamics. When a memorial is planned a year after a brother has died, everyone is drawn together, each with their own ideas, ways of life, and the effect this death brings about. This book explores the many emotions that come after a loved one has died, and even more about what is happening in the lives of various family members. Each character is beautifull
Jo Anne B
Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was very well written. It is a shame that I just didn't like any of the characters or bond with the story. You would think it would be easy to feel sorry for this family having lost Leo in the Iraq war. But Leo's character was never really portrayed. We only got a sense of who he was in a few memories which centered around his siblings. I thought that the family members were so self-centered. It was a mess of a family for sure. They were all so different and cold to each other they did ...more
Sue Seligman
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of realistic fiction, women
Recommended to Sue by: read a review
I really enjoyed reading this very sad, poignant and emotional novel. Leo Frankel, a journalist, has been killed in Iraq on July 4th covering the war during the Bush Administration. A year later his entire family has gathered in the country home in Lenox, Massachusetts for a memorial service. Leo, the youngest of 4 children of David and Marilyn, seemed to serve as the glue that held his family together, even though as an adult he traveled overseas, and lived with his wife and baby in California. ...more
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really nice read..... I felt like I knew this family and at times I was part of this family, the Frankels.
The author does such an incredible job narrating this story that takes place
over a long July 4th weekend commemorating the anniversary of the death of their younget sibling, Leo, a journalist killed on assign,et while covering the Iraq war. Leo's unveiling brings together his grieving family gathered to honor his memory.The story begins, as it should, with those who have been dealt the h
Karen Bergreen
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in two sittings. It would have been one sitting but kids needed to be fed. I was completely absorbed in the innerworkings of the Frankel family. The oldest genration, grandparents are on the brink of divorce and their three daughters are in crisis. They have come together for the one year memorial service in honor of their brother Leo, who was killed in Iraq. The characters are all intricately fleshed out to the point where I wanted to pick p the phone call each of them and tell ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The World Without You begins one year after journalist Leo Frank is murdered in Iraq. His parents, three older sisters, widow and young son gather for a memorial service and in the spaces between their interactions, Henkin outlines the hole left when a family member dies. We don't get to decide how other people grieve and even a tragedy doesn't change the basic relationships between parents and children, between siblings, between families and in-laws.

Henkin offers no easy answer to grief, but h
This book garnered a lot of good press – a lot. As such my expectations were probably unreasonably high. It centers on a messy New England family who’ve lost their (grown) son in Iraq and who reconvene at their summer house for his one-year memorial. I love big, messy families, especially when there are multiple sisters involved because it sort of reminds me of my own. Alas, I did not love this. There was nothing inherently wrong, it is well-written and the characters are multi-dimensional and v ...more
John Luiz
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Mark Haddon's Red House about an extended family who gets together at a summer house after a family member's death, and I must say Joshua Henkin's novel offers a far more entertaining and insightful read on a similar vein, and it's also free of the annoying writerly tricks Haddon overused. This book just relies on good storytelling to show how a mother and three sisters and the wife are dealing with the loss of Leo, their son/brother/husband, who, like Daniel Pearl, becam ...more
Diane S ☔
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 Although there is really nothing too original about this plot it is done wonderfully and interestingly well. Meeting a year after their brother, son and husband has been killed in Iraq, the family holds a memorial service. All the old secrets, hostilities and resentments erupt as the family tries to navigate their way through their new (without Leo) family dynamics. As in all families things are remembered differently by various siblings and despite their now diverse backgrounds they must co ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really, really liked this novel. I loved all the family dysfunction and the author did a great job fleshing out the central characters. The ending was a bit odd but not so much that it changed my overall feeling about the book. I know there has been some comparisons to the Daniel Pearl story but I really didn't see it other than the son who was a journalist who was killed in Iraq (although Daniel Pearl was killed in Pakistan, not Iraq)- think those comparisons are overblown. Overall a great, f ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A pitch-perfect portrayal of sibling dynamics, family relationships and marital strife within a family rocked by the death of a son/brother/husband. So good. Seriously. Was particularly impressed by how well the author drew his female characters, and how deeply he was able to develop all of the characters within a novel that spanned only three and a half days. The conflicting high and low emotions we feel around family, the way we all regress to our childhood dramas, the meaning of life-it was a ...more
First sentence: "'Here', she says, 'I'll get you a sweater.'"

P. 99: ""She's at one baseline with a bucket at her feet, and Clarissa, at the other baseline, also has a bucket."

Last sentence: "Then he's there, her husband, coming down the stairs, his shoes making their syncopated beat, and she's looking up at him, anticipating his voice, waiting to see what comes next.'"

From Amazon: It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this i
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Some books are all about plot, some are more character studies. Joshua Henkin's novel, The World Without You falls in the latter category.

The Frankel family, father David and mother Marilyn, are preparing for the arrival of their three daughters, Lily, Clarissa and Noelle, along with their spouses and children, and their daughter-in-law Thisbe with her young son for a memorial service for their son Leo, a journalist murdered last year covering the Iraq War.

The story revolves around how Leo's dea
Dennis Fischman
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I loved this book from the start. The people in it are not remotely like me: they're people for whom New York is an ethnicity, and (except for the oddly named Noelle, who has moved to Israel and become Orthodox), being Jewish is a puzzlement to them. They get together to have a memorial and unveil the tombstone of the only son, a journalist who was killed in Iraq, and they nearly forget to say the kaddish.

But I got involved with them all immediately--the older couple, David and Marilyn, whose s
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Please see the four stars as four and a half stars, very close to five...

I quite liked this novel set in Lenox, MA a year after Leo Frankel, a brother, son, husband, father, uncle, journalist was killed in Iraq.

His culturally Jewish family has come together for the Fourth of July weekend for the unveiling of his tombstone and a memorial service. His parents announce early on that after 42 years together they are divorcing. His three sisters and their husbands or partners have come from Israel,
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm surprised how many rave reviews this book has received. I found myself struggling to finish it (and nearly didn't) -- the characters were tiresome and unlikable. Henkin rotates the point of view from character to character, which can be interesting, so I hoped he'd introduce a point of view that felt fresh or compelling. Not so. The arc of the book felt somewhat predictable. Another personal gripe: I just don't cotton to fiction that's written in the present tense. It feels altogether gimmic ...more
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful look at the emotional life of a mostly secular Jewish family facing the one year anniversary of the death of the youngest son in Bush's war. It follows each member of the family through the three days they meet for a memorial service, in what will probably be the last time, at the family's vacation home Western MA. The family is far flung: Israel, New York, and in the case of the widow, California. The reader enters the private life of each of the siblings, parents, wife and ...more
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A peak through the kitchen window at a family sitting around the kitchen table, and nothing being as it looks on the outside. When a family member dies, does grief unite us or divide us? Do we see the best or worst of each other? One of the things that struck me about this book..... How members of the same family, who grow up in the same house with the same parents, can experience the same events so differently. The characters were well developed, and just like in real-life and in my own family, ...more
Norma Wright
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
"The World Without You" by Joshua Henkin is a book that explores family dynamics of a family racked by a tragic loss of one of its members. On the first aniversary of his death, his mother plans a memorial service for him. All family member converge for the service. The family dynamics are spot on with sibling rivalry, marital problems for the parents of the son who passed away, and ultimately one who steps forward for the real meaning of the day. I loved this book. 4 stars.
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a family who meet at their parents' summer house for the one-year memorial of their brother's death. It is not just any is a story where we get intimate insight into each character, their relationship with their deceased brother and with each other. I loved this book and plan to read Henkin's backlist. I love his writing style. I highly recommend this book.
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Critical Era: EW Review 3 21 Jun 19, 2012 10:35AM  
Critical Era: The World Without You get the Kirkus Star 1 10 Jun 14, 2012 11:44AM  

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Joshua Henkin is the author of the novels SWIMMING ACROSS THE HUDSON, a Los Angeles Times Notable Book; MATRIMONY, a New York Times Notable Book; and THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU, which was named an Editors' Choice Book by The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune and was the winner of the 2012 Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Jewish American Fiction and a finalist for the 2012 National Jewish Book Award. ...more

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